Fab colorful decor and a dapper pup at Kelsey & Elias' wedding

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride
Photos by Rachel May Photography

The Offbeat Bride: Kelsey, Art Therapist

Her offbeat partner: Elias, Web Developer

Date and location of wedding: Richmond, VA — October 4, 2014

Our offbeat wedding at a glance:

When Eli and I got engaged, we thought about what we love about our relationship. We created our wedding day around these intentions, always referring back to them when we had decisions to make. The words that we chose were playful, cozy, intimate, and honoring of both our relationship, and the relationship we have with each of our guests.

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

This feels really special, especially since we live in Colorado, far away from most friends and family. Many of our friends and family have not experienced our relationship, so we were really excited to be able to spend a day showing what it’s like to be in our love.

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

As an art therapist, creating an environment of beauty and joy through art was vital. Eli is quite an inventor as well, and was totally on board with this intention. To create this intimate and connected feel it was important to us to hand-make most of the decor and include our friends and family in the process as much as possible. We wanted the whole feel of the day to be around support and love.

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Tell us about the ceremony:

We handmade the pillows that our wedding party sat on during the ceremony. This was a detail that felt important to us to. At weddings we've been involved in, we've stood off to the side behind the bride or groom, the traditional set up. Imagining ourselves front and center without being able to see our most special friends didn't feel right, so we chose to do things a little differently. During the ceremony our wedding party sat in a semi-circle around us, allowing Eli and I to look out and see them, creating a sense of connection and groundedness during our transition into marriage. We also asked our wedding party to offer up blessings during the ceremony, which was one of my favorite parts of our day.

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Other details of the ceremony included the handkerchiefs we sewed for our parents and grandparents (which we gave out as surprise gifts at the beginning of the ceremony), including a ring warming into our ceremony, having friends as our ceremony musicians, and having our dog as the ring bearer.

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

My brother designs jeans, so he made Bodhi’s (our pup) denim ring holder. We’re big sewers, so Eli hand-made all of the bowties for the groomsmen. During the rehearsal Bodhi ran to me instead of Eli, so we didn’t have high hopes that he would deliver the rings successfully. On the day of the wedding he was a rock star, though, and got lots of love as he wandered in and out of the reception throughout the rest of the day.

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Tell us about your reception:

We had stations set up all around the site for the reception. There was a photo booth area, lawn games (including two cornhole sets painted by family members), a painting station (an alternative to a guestbook), table games, quilts and pillows laid out for alternative seating, stools that the wedding party painted for seating, and hand-painted signs by an amazing friend.

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Eli’s friends from college provided the beer from their newly opened brewery. One of my best friends sang and played guitar. As favors for the guests, I made little tubs of lip balm, a tribute to our engagement story. All these little touches made the day feel special, knowing that so many friends and family put so much into it. A really special part of the decor were all the felted garlands that hung around the reception and ceremony. Family and friends from around the world created these, sending packages full of felted balls to us during the engagement. We strung these and used them as decoration to create a cozy, intimate feel, as well as include guests who couldn't attend.

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

What was the most important lesson you learned from your wedding?

We were lucky to have an awesome and open support system throughout the process, but still the biggest challenge we faced was actually going through with what we wanted to do. Because a lot of our ideas were more quirky, when describing our ideas the initial response from family and friends would be "um…really?" Don't be afraid to do something different. We approached our wedding as the day that we could do whatever we wanted — to magnify our true selves.

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Another suggestion I have is to really take the engagement as a time of reflection. Getting married is a big identity shift, even if it doesn't feel like it. Let yourself feel the joy, excitement, and outpouring of love, but also be open to the grief, fear, and weirdness that comes with transitions.

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

Colorful decor at this Virginia wedding from @offbeatbride

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  1. I love all their personal details, felted balls from family and friends to Bhodi on the cake topper with them! The cushions for the bridal party are so sweet, as a member of many wedding parties in the past, standing there is awkward and a lot of the time, you can't hear what is going on. (You get the gist of it, but the words and funny moments can be lost.) It looks like such a fun celebration and the joy on their faces is so beautiful.

    2 agree
    • You can see Bodhi nestled in my train in one of the pictures near the top – he's the best pup <3 Thanks for your sweet words!

  2. I just love everything about this. (The doggie ring bearer even got me a bit choked up!)

    One of my favorite statements from this post is the following:
    "Another suggestion I have is to really take the engagement as a time of reflection. Getting married is a big identity shift, even if it doesn't feel like it. Let yourself feel the joy, excitement, and outpouring of love, but also be open to the grief, fear, and weirdness that comes with transitions."

    So true, and so important. Having been with my fiance for 19 years, I was surprised by how being engaged has brought us even closer together. But there have been ups and downs as part of that process as well, and I appreciate how this bride acknowledges and describes that!

    2 agree
    • I really believe that letting myself fully acknowledge the transition was the reason that our wedding day felt so effortless. Because of the emotional work I put in before hand, I could relax into each moment instead of hiding behind suppressed fear or anxiety. The book The Conscious Bride by Sheryl Paul was a big support for me during our engagement. I highly recommend it! And thanks for your comment!

    • We made them ourselves! Really easy process, we bought the wooden pegs at a craft store and used acrylic paint. So glad that you like them 🙂

  3. I love the cushions, I love the decorations, and I especially love the adorable doggy ring bearer, so cute!

  4. I'm studying to be an art therapist myself, so I shouldn't have been so surprised that so many aspects of this wedding really resonated with me. I absolutely love the idea of getting people to send pieces to put together as a garland and I can't wait to put that in place for our wedding day! Stunning and warm- so many congratulations on your marriage!

    • Thank you, Lauren! It was such a magical day. I highly suggest including your guests in the preparations process. It made the whole atmosphere feel full of love and support before the day even began. Good luck with your art therapy degree!

  5. This location is so gorgeous, I love the tall trees framing you for the ceremony! I'm a Virginia bride and I have to ask, where in Richmond is this???

  6. Where was the venue location? I'm looking to get married in the RVA area and love the look of this place!

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